Farm Bill Could Be Reality By Weekend - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Farm Bill Could Be Reality By Weekend

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BOZEMAN -

Farmers and ranchers are just one vote and signature away from having a much needed Farm Bill.

The bill goes to the Senate after the House approved the measure Wednesday morning.

The last Farm Bill expired in 2012.

The House and Senate approved their own versions of a Farm Bill last summer but they were quite different. It took a conference committee months to reach an agreement on a bill that would pass both chambers.

The House approved the 949 page bill 251 to 166 Wednesday. The Senate is expected to pass the bill as early as Thursday.

Montana Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jake Cummins said it's a relief for Montana farmers and ranchers.

"The opportunity to go forward with kind of certainty, that is essential for our folks to make those decisions that are seasonal and you make for the course of a year or more," said Cummins.

He said while it doesn't have everything he wanted in the bill, Montana's farmers and ranchers got what they need, especially livestock assistance programs.

"That's going to provide much needed assistance who suffer from fires, the drought and those poor folks in South Dakota who were slammed with the early blizzard,"

The bill cuts about $800 million from the $80 billion SNAP program, which provides food stamps.

This is about a one percent cut, much smaller than the five percent the house originally wanted to cut.

The Farm Bill also provides funding to state and local governments.

Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes, or PILT, was included in this farm bill after it was left out of the national budget.

Simply put, it's money the federal government pays states and counties with federal land to replace property taxes.

Cummins said that money adds up under the big sky.

"It's essential to us, it is six million dollars to the state of Montana to meet those essential service costs," said Cummins.

The White House said President Barack Obama will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

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